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Tumbesian Region

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Tumbesian Region

Duration: 14 Days / 13 Nights

Approximate number of species seen during the trip: 450 to 500


Educational Features

  • Lecture in Quito for an Introduction to the birds of Ecuador given by recognized members of the Ecuadorian Association of Ornithology.
  • Site Lectures at Buenaventura and Jorupe reserve about Critically-endangered species and its conservation efforts.

Tumbesian Region: Program Overview

The Tumbesian lowlands are considered as an Endemic Bird Area by BirdLife International due to its concentration of restricted-range birds and great vegetation diversity. At least 18 distinct vegetation types have been identified in this region, primarily grouped into deciduous and semi-evergreen lowland forest and arid scrub formations as well as a variety of habitats along foothill and Montane forests. These areas support a very high proportion of unique forms and comprise one of the most threatened habitats in South America. Some of these unique forms are the Ecuadorian Tapaculo and El Oro Parakeet. Ecuador has more than 50 Tumbesian endemics.

Altitude Range

Tumbesian lowlands starting from 50 m / 164 ft to 2600 m / 8500 ft above sea level. Southwestern Montane habitats ranging from tree line at 3600 m / 11811 ft in the eastern foothills at 900m / 2950 ft above sea level.

Trail Conditions

Moderate to Difficult.

Traveled area (Habitats)

Tropical Deciduous Forest, Mangrove Forest, Southwestern Lower Montane and Foothill Forest, Southwestern Middle Montane Forest, Andean Montane Scrub, Elfin Forest, Upper Montane Forest, Temperate Forest, Páramo Grassland.



The rainy season extends from late December to early May however birding is good year round. During the rainy season some places can be restricted due to accessibility.

Itinerary – Day by Day

Day 1: Arrival in Guayaquil. Greeting at the airport and transfer to your hotel.

Day 2: Cerro Blanco – Puerto Hondo

Trail Conditions: Easy Early breakfast. Briefing and introduction to the program. Depart from the hotel to Cerro Blanco, located approximately 20 minutes away from Guayaquil. This reserve is composed of deciduous forest, and it lies between the Tumbesian Endemic Bird Area. You will bird this area for approx. 4 hours. The common birds seen in this area are: the Ecuadorian Ground-Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Gray-cheeked Parakeet, Pacific Parrotlet, Pacific Pygmy-Owl, Ecuadorian Trogon, Blue-crowned Motmot, Streak-headed Woodcreeper, Yellow-olive Flatbill, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Streaked Flycatcher, Fasciated Wren, Superciliated Wren , Streaked Saltator, Scrub Blackbird and Ecuadorian Thrush. Continue to the mangrove estuary of Puerto Hondo, here by paddle canoe you will look for Rufous-necked Wood-Rail, Red-lored Amazon, Mangrove Warbler, Great-tailed Grackle among others. Drive back to Guayaquil. In the evening enjoy at the hotel an informative lecture about the Birds of Ecuador given by a local expert. (Meals: B, XL)

Day 3: Guayaquil – Manglares Churute –Buenaventura

Trail Conditions: Moderate Drive 1 hour from Guayaquil to visit Manglares Churute reserve, a 49.000 ha reserve containing deciduous, moist lowland forest and mangrove estuaries. Birding time around 3 to 4 hours on three different stops looking for Striated Heron, Snail Kite, Northern-crested Caracara, Eared Dove, Striped Cuckoo, Pacific Hornero, Amazilia Hummingbird, Blue-crowned Motmot, Golden-olive Woodpecker, Lineated Woodpecker, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Tawny-crowned Pygmy-Tyrant, Common Tody-Flycatcher, Chestnut-throated Seedeater among others. Continue driving for around 2 1/2 hours towards the Buenaventura reserve in the subtropical area of El Oro province. This reserve is located near Piñas and Zaruma. The area is renowned for being one of the ornithological richest and easily accessible sites in Ecuador. It protects a narrow zone of cloud forest habitat on the otherwise seasonally dry west slope of the Andes in Southern Ecuador. This reserve is home to El Oro Parakeet and El Oro Tapaculo, both of which are rare, critically endangered species endemic to Ecuador. Other important birds are: The most reliable Leck for Long wattled umbrellabird, Club winged Manakin, Song wren, Rufous headed Chachalaca and others. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 4: Buenaventura Reserve

Trail Conditions: Moderate Birding day in Buenaventura. This private reserve of 1680 ha, is located between 550 m to 1.100m above sea level. It contains two important ecosystems, lowland tropical rainforest and foothill forest. This reserve is considered the southernmost region of the Choco center of endemism, and has an influence of the dry Tumbesian center as well. Common birds seen in this area are: Black-cheeked Woodpecker, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Ochraceous Attila, Cinnamon Becard, Rufous-browed Peppershrike, Ecuadorian Thrush, Fasciated Wren, Buff-throated Saltator, Scrub Blackbird. White-whiskered Puffbird, Speckle-breasted Wren, White-whiskered Puffbird, Pacific Royal-Flycatcher, Yellow-tufted Dacnis, Guira Tanager, Orange-crowned Euphonia, Gray Hawk, Ochraceous Attila and Black-striped Sparrow and Brownish Twistwing. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 5: Zaruma – Jorupe

Trail Conditions: Moderate Morning birding in Buenaventura, then drive for approx. 5 hours towards the Jorupe reserve near Macará, near the Peruvian border, with birding stops on the way looking for specialties such as Watkins Antpitta, Black cowled Saltator, White tailed jay, White edged oriole and others. Arrive at Jorupe reserve late in the afternoon. (Meals: B, L, D)

tumbesian-birdingDay 6: Jorupe Reserve.

Trail Conditions: Moderate Jorupe is a private reserve with 1050 ha., and is one of the last surviving dry forests of the southwest of Ecuador, all within the Tumbesian center of endemism. Among the specialties here, we have Henna hooded foliage gleaner, Rufous necked foliage gleaner and the West Peruvian screech owl. Other specialties seen in the area are Red-masked Parakeet, Pacific Parrotlet, Black-billed Cuckoo (migrant, mainly April), Tumbes Swift, Gray-chinned Hermit, Long-billed Starthroat, Ecuadorian Trogon, Ecuadorian Piculet, Scarlet-backed Woodpecker, Guayaquil Woodpecker, Blackish-headed Spinetail, Rufous-necked Foliage-gleaner, Henna-hooded Foliage-gleaner, Red-billed Scythebill, Collared Antshrike , Tumbesian Tyrannulet, Pacific Elaenia, Tumbes Pewee, Gray-breasted Flycatcher, Sooty-crowned Flycatcher, Slaty Becard, White-tailed Jay, Gray-and-gold Warbler, Black-and-white Tanager (seasonal), Black-capped Sparrow, White-edged Oriole, Yellow-tailed Oriole and Saffron Siskin. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 7: Jorupe –Utuana – Vilcabamba

Trail Conditions: Moderate to Difficult Depart from Jorupe to visit the Utuana reserve located at 1 ½ hours (visit depends on road conditions). Utuana is a private reserve (250ha) of Montane forest, with an influence of Tumbesian transitional forest, located at an elevation of 2650m above sea level. Some of the common birds seen at Utuana are: the Speckled Hummingbird, Rainbow Starfrontlet, Purple-throated Sunangel, Line-cheeked Spinetail, Blackish Tapaculo, Silver-backed Tanager among others. Continue towards Vilcabamba with birding stops en route. (5 hour drive approx including stops) (Meals: B,L,D)

Day 8: Podocarpus National Park.

Trail Conditions: Easy to Moderate Podocarpus National Park (Cajanuma). Cajanuma is the highland part of Podocarpus National Park, 45 minutes drive from Vilcabamba. It is located at 2750m above sea level, this part of the park contains cloud forest, elfin forest and Paramo, and appears to support the highest number of bird species of any cloud forest-elfin forest-páramo ecotone in the world. Some specialties are: Golden plumed parakeet, Bearded Guan, Red faced parrot, and Chestnut bellied Cotinga, the West Peruvian Screech-Owl, Stygian Owl and Plumbeous Rail. In the afternoon, return to Izhcayluma for bird observation in the area or just relax at the hotel. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 9: Full Day Tapichalaca reserve, and road to Valladolid

Trail Conditions: Moderate Located in between 1800 to 3100m above sea level, Tapichalaca encompasses humid temperate forest , with a high level of endemism in its flora and fauna. It was here that the recently discovered Jocotoco Antpitta was found. Among specialties other than the Jocotoco Antpitta we have Bearded Guan, Golden plumed parakeet, White capped tanager and the White faced nunbird. In the afternoon drive towards Valladolid, (45 min), where we enter the northern part of the Marañon center of endemism, with specialties such as the Blackish Rail, Marañon Thrush and Silver-backed Tanager. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 10: Vilcabamba- Loja – Zamora Road- Rio Bombuscaro

Trail Conditions: Easy to Moderate Early morning birding at Vilcabamba, then drive to Loja, bird the Loja- Zamora road (3 Hours approx including stops for birding) Arrive late afternoon at Copalinga lodge near Rio Bombuscaro. The Loja – Zamora road is 60 Km long, and embraces elevations between 1000 to 2800m above sea level, encompassing the eastern foothill and subtropical forests of the Andes, common birds seen in this area are: Tyrian Metaltail, Rainbow-bearded Thornbill, Mouse-colored Thistletail, Rufous Antpitta, Chestnut-crowned Antpitta, Blackish Tapaculo, Glossy Flowerpiercer and Pale-naped Brush-Finch. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 11: Full day in Rio Bombuscaro.

Trail Conditions: Moderate Rio Bombuscaro is the lower limit, of the Podocarpus National Park, and supports lower Montane cloud forest rich in mixed species flocks, The bird list of the stands at almost 300 species which contain several threatened species such as the White breasted parakeet and Coppery chested Jacamar. Afternoon birding at Copalinga lodge. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 12: Zamora – Catamayo – Quito.

Trail Conditions: Easy to Moderate Bird the Zamora area and the low part of the Zamora – Loja road in the morning, and then drive towards Catamayo (2 1/2 hours) where the Loja airport is located. In this area you can find some common Tumbesian endemic species such as the Pacific Parrotlet, Long-tailed Mockingbird , Pacific Hornero, Fasciated Wren, Southern Beardless-Tyrannulet, Vermilion Flycatcher, Thick-billed Euphonia and the Croaking Ground-Dove Board your flight back to Quito. Once in Quito, transfer to your hotel. (Meals: B, L, D) Note: Afternoon flight from Loja to Quito operates every day except Saturday.

Day 13: Quito city tour and Botanical Garden

Trail Conditions: Easy Explore Quito’s colonial center; the best preserved historic center in America. Learn about Quito’s rich history and its artistic legacy. Admire the wonderful architecture of its colonial buildings and the uniqueness of religious art pieces from the famous Quitenian School of art, which combines the European Renaissance and Baroque styles with the indigenous and mestizo influences. Continue to Quito’s Botanical Garden that boasts a great exhibition of plants of different colors, sizes, shapes and smells, going through different ecosystems from the native flora of the high Andes, to the cloud forest, dry forest and ornamental plants. This area is a temporary refuge to birds on their way to the eastern slope and lowlands, some of the birds spotted in the area are: the Great Crested Flycatcher, Northern Waterthrush, Yellow Warbler, Swainson’s Thrush and Summer Tanager. Return to the hotel. Rest of the evening at leisure. (Meals: B, L, D)

Day 14: Departure Transfer to the airport for your flight back home or to your next destination.

Operational details

Program starts in Guayaquil and ends in Quito – Minimum 2, Maximum 9

The program includes

Private transportation, expert birder local guide, accommodation & meals according to itinerary detail (menu meals), visit and entrance fee to mentioned places.

The program does not included

International airfare, personal expenses, insurance and gratuities.

Ready to get started? Contact us to book your trip.


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